By Warren Hayes • firstname.lastname@example.org • May 19, 2010
Peabody High School coach Charles Smith would consider his resume of five boys basketball state championships impressive, but his resume reached a new plateau after receiving a call from ESPNRise.com senior editor Doug Huff.
Huff told Smith to submit information to him on his coaching career to be in a selection of coaches to be nominated for the ESPN National Coach of the Year Award.
"This is one honor that I will never forget. I was also invited to the Jordan Brand All-American Classic in New York as one of the coaches for the east team in April," Smith said. "This has been a Cinderella year. I thank my wife, Rosa, and my daughter and son for helping me achieve the level of success I have accomplished in my 35 years at Peabody."
Smith has a career record of 745-144.
Smith isn't the only Peabody representative that has received national attention.
Point guard Markel Brown was named ESPN All-American second-team.
Brown averaged 32 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks, three steals and five assists.
"This shows the world that you don't have to be from the biggest city to have the best ball players," Brown said. "There's talent right here in Central Louisiana and I'm proud to say I received this honor as a Peabody Warhorse."
It was Cinderella year indeed for Smith.
The Warhorses were able to win this year's 4A championship with a prefect record of 41-0.
Smith remembers when he took over as Peabody's coach in 1985, when Peabody was in 3A.
"I had two bad seasons and was basically developing my own philosophy when I took over. In 1988, we made our first state tournament appearance. We didn't win the championship but I did accomplish something great. Kevin Madden was a guard and the first player I had to sign to a college- the College of Charleston, S.C."
Smith won his first 3A title in 1991 when his team defeated Wossman High School.
This time, Smith took a step up in getting his players signed to a university.
"My center Eric Hayward was 6-foot-9 and was the first player to sign to a Division I university - the University of Connecticut. Eric's brother, Charles Hayward, also played for me and signed to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte."
Smith's first 4A championship came in 2000 when Peabody defeated Leesville.
"I've had 43 players to play for a college or university. I have 10 guys playing college ball this year," Smith said. "When we moved to 4A and won this championship, it just showed that the players at Peabody could compete on any level."
Smith requires all his players to have a 2.0 GPA.
If a player is having trouble in a course of study, Smith will let a player miss practice.
"I'm also a math teacher and academic work is just as important as what you do on the basketball, football or baseball field," Smith said. "The past three summers, I let my two players, Sherrard and Travis Davidson, attend engineering seminars at different colleges. It has worked out for Travis, because he graduated with an engineering scholarship to attend Southern University."
Brown will play for Oklahoma State in the fall.
Smith said Brown is a special player because of his determination after breaking his wrist.
"Markel basically learned how to shoot with his left hand and has phenomenal jumping ability," Smith said. "After attending the Michael Jordan Classic and seeing the top high school players in the country, I see Markel is on the same level and has the ability to be one of the best athletes in college."
Smith said he never gave much consideration to coaching at the college level.
"I like the grooming process of high school athletes," h said. "College players are already expected to be able to move to the NBA level. With high school players, you get to have fun and mold and teach a player the fundamentals of basketball.
"I'm happy with the decisions I've made to stay with Peabody and thankful that I was able to bring Peabody to the national spotlight."